1/8/14

The Key To Sleep Training A Toddler...

I am so freaking exhausted. Like newborn baby momma tired... Too bad I am not dealing with a newborn, but a near two-year-old toddler.


Somehow, I have been "Sleep Training" my child since he was born. Seriously. My toddler is a month shy of turning two and I am STILL waking up with him at all hours of the night. Sometimes he goes back to sleep easily. Sometimes, not so much. That's right, nearly 24 months of on and off sleep training.


This latest trip through sleep training hell began WAY back in October, when daylight savings time and my Mother-in-law (MIL) came a knocking at our door... within days of each other. Right at that time Ollie started waking up at 4:30 ready to make the day his bitch. Then he started waking up every couple of hours... turning mommy into a bitch.


When, after a few weeks of this constant and early waking, I reached out to every mother I knew, looked into every print and online resource I could find, and even called the doctor for help.  I was given some great advice from, going with the classic cry-it-out method; to getting a crib net to put over his crib to keep him in bed; to getting a gate to put at his door to keep him in his room until it was time to wake up for the day; to all types of self soothing techniques like stand close to his crib, don't stand close, nurse him/don't nurse him, keep putting him back in bed...  but above all, The Key To Sleep Training A Toddler is Consistency.  I was told it was crucial that I stay consistent with what ever method I went with. Which, now that I am three months into this madness of not sleeping through the night, clearly I have been consistent... with not fixing the damn problem!

I have been consistent with giving in to what ever it takes to get him back to sleep.  I can only handle the screaming and crying for so long.  Plus, I am afraid he is going to wake up the neighbors with his screaming fits! I have consistently given in at 2:30am to walking him into the kitchen for water, then rocking him back to sleep.  I try so hard to just pick him up and put him back in bed, but just last night I did that for TWO HOURS straight! TWO. He was so worked up from screaming and crying that it took forever to calm him down. SUUUUUUUUCKS!!!!!

Here is the worst of it, I am sitting here typing this at 4:30am because I also have the horrible issue of waking up with him, getting him back to sleep and then staying up from nervous energy/anxiety.  I CANNOT WIN!

Well, dammit, I want to win.

I need to find some sort of fix for all of this because since mid-October I have not slept more than four solid hours, unless of course I go to sleep at 8pm when the kid does. Which, that sucks too.

If this is an issue for you too, then take it from me, you have to pick a battle plan and stick to it. I have found putting him back in his bed a hundred times does help. If he wakes up before 5am I can get him back to sleep this way.  I just stand outside of his door waiting for him to come out, and then put him back in his crib, until he finally gives in and stays in his crib for another hour or so. Again, sometimes it works quickly, others he loses his shit and takes forever to calm down. I just consistently keep putting him back in his bed. I pray every night that he will finally get it, and stay in bed for good. So, here is hoping this last horrible round was the one that won the battle.

Also, people swear by keeping the child in their room with a gate or crib net, I just do not have the backbone to deal with the screaming.  Plus, my doctor said it is best not to traumatize him by yelling, locking him in his room, or associating sleep with crazy mommy.  Though a few times I am sure he has seen crazy mommy.  The main issue is that no one thing has really worked for us.  He wakes up, I do my best to get him back to sleep without any extra stimulation, and when that fails, I break and do what it takes--rocking, milk/water, reading... whatever it takes.  I know this is not good, and that it is most likely what has me in this situation for so ling, but at the wee hours of mooring, I am more concerned with getting him back to sleep as quickly as possible.

Truth be told, I am at the end of my patience with this, so for the next few nights I am going to be really tough.  I know from all the hurdles I have overcome with my child, it usually takes three days of being consistent to make a change.  So... I will let you know how this works out for me.

Just know, if you are up at the ass-crack of dawn with a crazy toddler, so am I, and probably a fair number of parents reading this. I just keep telling myself, this shit will pass! Eventually. I mean, even though everything about the teenage years is supposed to suck, I know for a fact teenagers sleep... I sure as hell did. In fact, the way I feel right now, I think that was the last time I did sleep through the night.


(If you came here desperate for some answers, then check out this post with some good tips from the baby sleep site. CLICK HERE

Got any ideas?  Did something work for you?  PLEASE SHARE!!



Two confused parents=One amused baby Hopelessly we are trying raise a baby who is clearly smarter than both of us. April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

14 Comments:

Anonymous said...

My daughter (20 months) would wake up every night about 4:00 - 4:30. We got a little pillow for her crib and she now sleeps until almost 7 every morning. There have been a few times where she has cried, but within 5 minutes, she's back asleep.

Anonymous said...

I'm still going through it with an 11 month old! I think my problem is that I bring her in the bed with us and she has started to expect to come into the bed with mommy and daddy smh. I just want one good night of REAL sleep lol.

Trish said...

My son is 15 months, and we are going through the same thing. I feel like we've sleep-trained the crap outta this kid...and ourselves. And just when we think we've succeeded, BAM! New teeth are coming in, he's got a cold, the stomach bug, a double ear infection. Ugh! The CIO method just pisses him off at this point. The method we use is simple. My husband is the sleep trainer. When the boy wakes up in the middle of the night, my husband lays him down, reassures him and lies down on the floor next to the crib. Surprisingly enough, this works. He still whines a little and might cry out a few times, but he stays down and goes to sleep. We're now using this method to put him to bed awake. Every couple of nights, the time it takes him to fall asleep shortens. We're down to about 10 minutes. I know this method probably goes against the books and the websites and all the sleep training crap we've learned about, but it worked to get him to sleep through the night and we'll see how it goes with putting him to bed. I think because he's bummed that I'm not there, he gives in. Up until now, I was always the one to go in, pick him up, nurse him, rock him, etc. Of course, last night he was up again twice...but, of course he has two bottom teeth coming in, so that could be why. It never ends! Good luck! If I'm up again tonight, I'll think about you at 4am. Like you said, know you're not alone.

Anonymous said...

We do what Trish does too. I've found that any crying methods just piss him off. Truly. And he does not settle down. Two hours of struggling is not even right! I won't ever do it again. Now, I have learned to respond to and balance my child's needs with my own. A peaceful bedtime is a need for me and not a want. The more peaceful the bedtime, the more peaceful the night lately. When I'd try to leave him at bedtime and have him fall asleep alone (sleep training books), even if he only cried out a minute or two and fell asleep, he'd wake upset and need help getting back to sleep in the night. So, both dad and I started taking turns laying on the floor in the middle of the night wake-ups. NO TAKING OUT OF CRIB! (unless hysterical of course, or know he's very sick/teething/thirsty). It took about two weeks of laying in front of his crib at bedtime for him to be comfortable enough to just fall asleep quickly (10 minutes or so). Two weeks later, I have finally gotten a couple nights of STTN! Glorious sleep. So, basically I lay on his floor until asleep and then respond the exact same way with any night wakings. It really does work. And if the worst I have to do is lay there and sneak out after asleep, I'm ok with it. He didn't sleep through right away, but did eventually. Crying methods are not for us. Everyone's cortisol levels go CRAZY in my house with this type of crying. And it's not just protesting. He really does want that loving comfort of his parents while falling asleep. He's not a baby anymore at 19 months. He's a boy and he wants bedtime loves. Eventually, we'll be laying in bed with our littles reading them books as they drift off to sleep. Remember sleep is non-linear. The REAL trick to sleep training a toddler is to "read your toddler." What does he need? How can you meet that need while suffering as little as possible for all? And yes consistency in response. --Amanda

Alissa said...

Ahhh April... We are in the midst of sleep training with Micah. We are doing modified CIO but he really doesn't cry... just fusses. Thankfully I think he is a faster learner than James!

I can tell you this... James used to wake up ALL the time and we finally determined it was because he hated being in a super wet diaper. We started buying nighttime diapers in the next size up and low and behold he started to sleep longer. The other thing we did was get him a light-up toy like a pillow pet or one of those toys that projects stars onto the ceiling. When he'd wake up we'd go in there tuck him back in and turn on that little toy. He almost always fell back to sleep. I think it was comforting for him to have some light in his room and a dry diaper. He still wakes up but will lay in his bed just babbling away. We turn off the monitor and go back to sleep unless he starts screaming LOL. But I will say all bets are off if he gets sick or has a tooth coming in... then he goes back to not sleeping.

Unknown said...

This is me too! Well kinda - Spud has taken to needing reassurance from me (and me only) to settle at night and lately, even for his nap. I'm really not a CIO kinda mum (grizzles? sure. Crying? Nope) and I refuse to use a gate or just close the door and leave him by himself - I can't see that working well when he's been so good at settling himself until now. Hubby would go for that approach, but he's agreed to let me do it my way seeing as I'm the one that settles him (son, not hubby... well sometimes hubby too if the tanties outyell the t.v.). I'm putting it down to a new development phase where they need to know we're here for them all the time. Naive? Meh, quite possibly. But it works for us, and that's all I can ask for...
Good luck!!

April McCormick said...

Thank you! I will definitely try that.

April McCormick said...

That was part of the reason last night was a two hour marathon of ridiculousness, I brought him into bed. He doesn't sleep well with us, or at all really, so it was more like 20 minutes of him making snow angels in the sheets, while I got the crap kicked out of me. They will sleep eventually... without us... right?

April McCormick said...

LOL. Thank you for this. I'll be giving floor sleeping a try tonight. It's true, just when you have the little angle asleep, some ailment comes along to screw it up! Teeth are the worst! I will be thinking of you too at 4am...

April McCormick said...

OK, Two votes for floor sleeping? I am Def doing this! Thank you for this comment. So what we all should hear. It's about knowing what is best for getting our toddler to sleep. They are just little ones, and night time can be scary. Making it worse surely cannot be helping them. As always, thank you for your awesome comment Amanda!

April McCormick said...

I LOVE the light up pillow people idea! I know just the one too. I would love it if Ollie would lay in bed and babble. I will check the diaper too... So smart.

April McCormick said...

"'I'm really not a CIO kinda mum (grizzles? sure. Crying? Nope)" HAHAH! ! This is so me too. I never was successful at it when Ollie was still a baby-baby. It's that painful scream that gets me every time. When he screams out because he is mad i can hold off, but hurting/scared not freaking way. My heart breaks! Tonight I am going to try to be very loving and reassuring, but short so I do not stimulate him. Hugs.

Unknown said...

We dont do CIO here. We do cuddles and put back to bed. If he whinges then we ignore it but if he is properly crying he gets cuddles until he is calm and then back to bed. We have a Groclock which we use to show him when its bedtime and when he can get up. Its helped no end. :) my little guy is 2 & a half. Hope you get some rest soon

Anonymous said...

You are brave! And loving! Hoping that you are getting to sleep in a bit more now!

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